Several people have asked, so this guide will show you how to create a Live USB with persistence which will allow you to update the OS, install apps,
change the theme or wallpaper, and have it all saved to the USB drive like it would to a hard drive.
And while making a Live CD is easier, being able to change your wallpaper, settings, install apps, and have those settings saved (just as they would
be on a hard drive) but without installing to a hard drive is very convenient.
Most Linux versions are always free, and usually already include most drivers for PC components to operate correctly in the Linux environment. There
will be some drivers that will have to be manually installed.
And rarely, there won't be a driver at all for a particular component, unfortunately. That will depend on a particular person's own machine.
There are two types of Live USB's that can be created:
- Live USB without persistence, which is just like a Live CD. Once you shut the system down, any settings or installs will be gone.
- Live USB with persistence, which allows you to save your settings and downloads to the USB. Just like you would be able to on a hard
I recommend a 2 GB USB thumb drive for a Live USB without persistence. And at least an 8 GB USB thumb drive if you are going to use persistence as
you'll need the extra space for installing apps, etc.
1.) Download your Linux distribution of choice.
Windows users will feel at home right from the start with Linux Mint Cinnamon
. Only use the 64-bit
version if your system is capable of running 64-bit software.
MacOS users will feel at home right from the start with Ubuntu
Either version of Linux can be made to look and feel like your native OS (Windows or MacOS) by installing themes, icon packs, etc. But that's a little
bit more advanced and not really for new users from the start.
Something to note is that Linux Mint is based off of Ubuntu, so they will operate nearly the same way.
2.) Download software that will create the Live USB.
which will be used to create the Live USB.
Alternately, you can use Universal USB Installer
which will do the same
exact thing as UNetbootin. Only one of these programs is needed.
I'll be using UNetbootin in this guide.
3.) Format your USB thumb drive.
Plug your USB drive in. Go to "Computer" on your Windows PC. Then right-click on your USB drive and click "Format" (make sure you don't have any
important files as everything will be deleted).
You can leave all the settings as is. Make sure "Quick Format" is checked. Type in whatever label you want to name your USB drive. Then click
4.) Make your Live USB.
Once everything is downloaded and your USB drive is formatted, start up UNetbootin:
Highlight the circle next to "Diskimage" below by clicking on it. Then press the "..." button and select the Linux version you just downloaded.
Right below that will say "Space used to preserve files...". If left at "0", it will create a Live USB that will act like a Live CD where nothing is
saved and you'll have to start fresh every time.
If you want to be able to save your settings and installed apps, you'll want to set this to a certain value.
I like to leave 2 GB for the operating system. So if you have an 8 GB USB drive, you can set the persistence area to 6 GB. But they want the value in
MB. So you'll have to use this calculator
to convert GB to MB.
Next underneath that, you'll select your physical USB drive in the drop-down that says "Drive" and click "OK".
5.) Set your computer to boot from USB.
When UNetbootin is done creating your Live USB, it's time to make sure your computer can boot from the USB.
While leaving your USB drive plugged in, reboot your computer and press the appropriate key to enter your computer's BIOS. Usually this is the
"Delete" key, F1 or F2. It will vary depending on the manufacturer of the PC.
Older computers cannot boot from a USB and there's no way around this. You'll just have to use a Live CD or install Linux to a separate partition on
one of your hard drives.
Once in the BIOS, you'll look for the "Boot" settings. It will list your hard drive, CD/DVD drive, possibly floppy drive, and in what order they will
be booted from. You'll want to select the first boot device and then change it to your USB drive. Press F10 to save and the computer will reboot.
(Note that if you change a boot device, you'll want to change the others. So your second boot device should then be your CD/DVD drive, and
the third boot device should then be your hard drive that contains your original operating system.)
Once your computer reboots, Linux will automatically start loading from the USB drive. You'll still be able to access your other hard drives as well.
So, you will have access to your movies, music, photos, etc. stored on any other hard drive.
Disadvantages of a Persistent Live USB:
Some disadvantages to having a persistent USB drive would be:
(On a side note, Linux can be fully installed to a USB just like a hard drive with password protection (which is a little more
involved), however the main disadvantage above still applies. Live CD's / USB's are made for testing purposes only and not for production or permanent
installs. An internal or external hard drive is best for that.)
- Security. When Linux is installed normally, an administrative user is created with a password. There is no password for a Live USB
environment. Therefore, anything saved to the Live USB will be viewable by anyone who has access to the USB drive.
- Slower boot-up time compared to booting from a hard drive. That's because the Live USB environment runs compatibility tests to set itself up for
the machine it's going to be running on.
- Main disadvantage of a persistent Live USB is that frequent writes to the USB will eventually wear out the memory cells of the USB drive, making it
The memory cells of a USB drive have a much shorter life span than the memory cells in a Solid State Drive. As long as you're not uninstalling and
then installing, uninstalling/installing multiple times, the USB drive should last a while.
That wraps up this guide. Feel free to ask any questions pertaining to getting a Live USB working. I am a LInux noob myself, so any Linux-related
questions I'll leave to other members with more advanced knowledge.
There is an absolute plethora of guides and forums around the net with the information available for you to figure out how to do whatever you want to
do in Linux, and learn how to use Linux.
edit on 8-8-2015 by _BoneZ_ because: (no reason given)